Islamabad: Cricket-crazy Pakistanis on Sunday said they felt “violated” and “betrayed” by reports that members of their beloved cricket team were involved in a fresh betting scam even as the Sports Minister pledged that any cricketer found guilty would face a lifetime ban.
Pakistani vented their anger and frustration at the latest match-fixing scandal through comments posted on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook and popular blogs.
Mehmal Sarfraz, the op-ed editor of a leading newspaper, said in a message posted on Twitter: “We, the fans, feel cheated, betrayed, violated.”
Reacting to blogger Adil Najam’s special post on “Match Fixing Scandal: Pakistan Cricketers Set to Lose Test, Series and Dignity” on his popular ezine “pakistaniat”, a reader commented: “It’s shameful and painful news?(It’s a) betrayal towards the game and also towards our cricket-crazy nation.”
On a forum started on the website of the influential Dawn newspaper to debate the match-fixing “imbroglio, its implications and what the future holds for Pakistan cricket,” a reader wrote: “In 1999 you broke my heart. But I was 16, and I learnt to love you again. I fear I am too old to love you again.”
All TV news channels began their hourly bulletins today with reports on the match-fixing scam that is now being investigated by ICC and Britain’s Scotland Yard.
The scam was exposed by the tabloid News of the World, which reported that bowlers Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif delivered three deliberate no-balls against England in line with the predictions of alleged fixer Mazhar Majeed.
Majeed allegedly received 150,000 pounds from the tabloid’s undercover reporters posing as members of a gambling cartel. As Pakistanis aired their anguish, Sports Minister Ijaz Hussain Jakhrani promised that any player found guilty of match-fixing would face a lifetime ban as the matter involved the country’s honour and dignity.
Jakhrani said he had contacted Pakistan’s High Commissioner to Britain Wajid Shamsul Hasan and Pakistan Cricket Board chief Ijaz Butt, who had informed him that they were waiting for the reports of the ICC’s anti-corruption wing and Scotland Yard.
He said action could be taken only after these reports were received. “If any player or member of the management is found to be involved (in match-fixing), he will get the harshest punishment. No one will be spared. The guilty players will not be able to play again,” Jakhrani told the media.
Blogger Adil Najam wrote on his ezine “pakistaniat” that the scandal “will not only bring further heartbreak and shame to Pakistan cricket fans but also wreck whatever little dignity is left in a team that is in tatters in terms of performance and, if these allegations are true, in morals too.”
Another blogger, Ayesha, devoted a post to the scandal. “I don’t know where to begin from. It hurts when your beloved country features in all kinds of worst news.
As if ministers’ fake degrees scandal, perennial bombings, country’s worst ever aviation disaster and flooding, Sialkot lynching weren?t enough to torment us emotionally and psychologically, the serpent of match fixing in cricket raised its head again,” she wrote.
Former PCB chairman Arif Abbasi alleged that the board’s officials too are involved in the scam.
He questioned why Shoaib Malik was taken back into the national team despite his alleged involvement in match-fixing.
“No one is playing for the country,” he said.